Sydney Film Festival 2011: Wrap Up

This Is England '86

SFF LogoIt’s hard to believe that it has been almost a week since the 58th Sydney Film Festival closed last Sunday with Mike Mills’ Beginners. The Festival cited record attendance, with their press stating that the “12 day film festival achieved over 110,000 attendances and encompassed 161 titles: 75 features, 39 documentaries, 34 short films, 13 retrospective titles, 10 World premieres and 86 Australian premieres, including 29 Australian productions and films from 42 countries in 47 languages”.

“Sold-out sessions increased to 72 in 2011 from 63 last year”, added the press release, “and percentage capacity attendance increased significantly, resulting in nearly half of all sessions being over 95% full”.

Since then, the Festival has announced that the winners of its audience awards (below), with This is England ’86 and A Common Purpose taking out the top slots for the Showtime Audience Awards in the respective feature and documentary categories.

This Is England '86

Feature FilmsDocumentaries
1st - This is England ’861st - A Common Purpose
2nd - Kung Fu Panda 22nd - I’m Not Dead Yet
3rd - Africa United3rd - Life In Movement
4th - Tucker & Dale Vs Evil4th - Scarlet Road
5th - Even the Rain5th - Senna

Film critics had a very different spin on the festival, with Matt Riviera’s annual Sydney Film Festival: Critics’ Poll awarding the top slots to Tomboy and Senna in the two categories, although it should be noted that Tomboy only received two voted. Overwhelming, the 15 critics nominated selected The Tree of Life and Official Competition winner A Separation as their favourite film, with The Turin Horse also performing strongly.

So after a full 12 days of coverage, what did The Reel Bits pick for its top slots?

  1. The Tree of Life
  2. The Turin Horse
  3. Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil
  4. 13 Assassins
  5. Meek’s Cutoff

Honourable mentions: Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel, Attenberg, Tyrannosaur

It is a testament to the strength of the year that my most anticipated film of the festival, Meek’s Cutoff, just made it into a personal Top 5. Indeed, out of the 33 films viewed in this year’s Sydney Film Festival, there were only a handful that failed to impress. Yet once Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life had washed over me for the first time, it is difficult to initially get a handle on Malick’s latest piece, as there is very little to use as a point of reference in the discussion of it. Perhaps this why it remains at the top of this critic’s list for the Best of Fest in 2011, for whether one likes it or hates it there will be nothing like it again this year, and perhaps in any other.

The Sydney Film Festival ran from June 8 to June 19, 2011.

For more news and reviews from the Sydney Film Festival, check out our coverage of previous days of the 2011 event: